Patrick Reusse
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Lenny Horyza was the longstanding boys basketball coach at Cretin-Derham Hall and was known for his strict ways. When a timeout was called, Raiders raced to the sideline huddle and stood in rapt attention.

Horyza found himself with such a talented bunch in 1990-91 that he had a 6-foot-5 student manager in Andy Soucheray.

The star of this Horyza team was Arvesta Kelly Jr. Notoriously, the Raiders assembled for one of those timeouts and Lenny felt the weight of someone's left arm resting in a relaxed manner on his shoulder.

The coach looked to his right, saw that it was Arvesta Jr.'s left arm, and in an instant, the stern coach was at a crossroads:

Snap at this young fellow for his lack of a huddle decorum, or consider the talent and let it sail?

Coach Horyza went with Option B, and the Raiders went on to win the state championship and did so again in 1993.

Jerry Kline is now the veteran coach at Cretin-Derham Hall. He soon could be surrounded by so much talent in that Raiders huddle that he could have an arm resting on his head, just so that 6-foot-11 Tommy Ahneman can get himself a good listen.

The Raiders already had JoJo Mitchell, a sophomore last season after transferring from Apple Valley, and Ty Schlagel, a sophomore-to-be arriving from Eden Prairie, to fuel a strong club for next season.

Then early this week, it was revealed that Ahneman would be leaving West Fargo in North Dakota, moving to St. Paul with his family and playing his senior season for the Raiders.

He's a four-star recruit and has visited the Gophers. Minnesota and Northwestern are his official offers at this point.

Ahneman was at Nebraska this week, with a stop at Creighton in Omaha. Northwestern, and perhaps Wisconsin and Notre Dame, are on his itinerary.

Eric Bronaugh is a coach for the Howard Pulley AAU team in the Twin Cities and is also an assistant for Kline. Ahneman, Mitchell and Schlagel have played in the Pulley ranks.

You pine for the simpler times, when what happens in AAU basketball was not more important than what goes on with your local high school team?

Might as well get over it, although I'm not sure that's the case with me, since, get this:

My interest in the current Ahneman drama dates to the basketball seasons of 1966-67 and 1967-68, when I was the St. Cloud Times' beat reporter for the St. Cloud State Huskies.

Halenbeck Hall was new, and Red Severson's basketball team filled it up on many nights. Those were excellent teams in every way, but the Huskies had co-stars in Tom Ditty and Terry Porter.

Ahneman's mother is Erin Ditty, Tom's daughter and an excellent athlete in basketball and golf. She was recruited out of Hastings to North Dakota State.

Ben Ahneman was from Bismarck, N.D., and a star linebacker for the Bison, winding up in 1998.

"Ben was playing at the same time the 'Sauce' — Jim Kleinsasser — was playing for North Dakota," Erin said. "Those were some battles."

Ben and Erin were married out of college and have two sons: Tommy, the young giant, and Danny, a ninth-grader in waiting and very excited that boys volleyball will be a varsity sport in Minnesota next spring.

The Ahnemans were in the Fargo area for 15 years, with Ben working as a project manager in the construction business.

There was an original pull with Pulley and those long drives to investigate moving to the Twin Cities.

"There were a lot of advantages, starting with having a large Ditty family there, including my mom," Erin said. "Ben landed a job with Kraus-Anderson, and we're looking for a place to rent in St. Paul."

The Gophers are in contention, but there's a visit to Northwestern upcoming, plus interest from Nebraska, and perhaps Wisconsin, Creighton and Notre Dame.

Tommy bears the name of his grandfather, Tom, a Huskies Hall of Famer in basketball and baseball. He died in 2022 from complications that followed heart bypass surgery.

It would be great to see his grandson at Williams Arena, although I do not have influence to promise him the same glowing coverage that Grandpa Tom (and Porter) received way back when.

I mean, after a heartbreaking second-round loss to Dickinson (N.D.) State in the NAIA national tournament to end their careers, we went to North Kansas City and drank several beers in disappointment.

Conflict of interest?

I was 22. This was St. Cloud. This was Red's team. There was no conflict.